Week 5 officially kicks off on Thursday night, with the Patriots traveling down to Tampa to take on the Buccaneers. As the Patriots fight to avoid a losing record, the Buffalo Bills will be fighting this coming Sunday to keep their division lead. Buffalo will travel to Cincinnati to take on the 1-3 Bengals. Don’t let their record fool you. This will not be an easy game for Buffalo, and they will need to be fully prepared for this Bengals team. The Bills probably will not have to worry about how potent Andy Dalton will be to them. In fact, this game will come down to if the offense can get the job done against the Bengals secondary. More specifically, Tyrod Taylor and the wide receiving core. This is the key matchup this week.
The Bengals season has been a disaster so far, dropping their first 3 games of the season. Their only win came against the Browns in Week 4, which let’s face it, that’s not an impressive feat. Despite this, the defense of this Bengals team has quietly been putting up solid numbers, especially in the passing game. This Bengals secondary has shut down opponents to just 164 yards per game, which is crazy low through four games of the season. Even the Buffalo Bills defense is giving up 212 passing yards per game. Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones are both extremely physical cornerbacks who are rather underrated in coverage. Put George Iloka up top at safety, and this Bengals secondary has the chance to shut down receivers and give the offense problems. Their leading tackler Nick Vigil and Vontaze Burfict also can drop back in coverage successfully. With this said, expect the Bengals to give the Bills WR’s some struggles.
The Bills receivers may struggle this Sunday, especially with the loss of Jordan Matthews. The Bills mantra has always been “next man up,” and that will certainly be required in this bout. To amend the loss of Matthews, the Bills re-signed Philly Brown back to the roster. Brown should be able to step into the #2 spot or even #1 if Zay Jones/Andre Holmes can’t step up early. This team doesn’t make their bread and butter off the WR’s though, which is good news. (Bills WR’s have only accounted for 10% of the Bills offense) In fact, Charles Clay is the Bills leading receiver with 227 yards and 2 TD’s on the campaign. Furthermore, out of Tyrod Taylor’s 65 completions this season, only 21 of them have been to WR’s. 44 of his passes have gone to TE’s or RB’s! That number is actually quite astounding. Soon though, teams will start forcing Tyrod to throw to WR’s, which makes it crucial that the Bills’ receiving core can find a way to get open and make plays. Quick routes, and some better route running overall will need to happen this week.
How Bills Can Win Matchup:
The Bills key to winning this matchup is quite simple, though not easy. The best way to win this matchup is to get the run game going early. If you can run the ball, you won’t need to worry about this matchup much at all. Of course, the Bengals will stack the box; so what’s the next method? Do what they’ve been doing. Get Charles Clay, Shady McCoy and O’Leary involved as much as possible. Rollouts, bootlegs, play action, and quick routes are all ways to get the defense off it’s balance as well. I also think extending plays, which is Tyrod’s specialty, will allow receivers more time to get open. Furthermore, the occasional deep shot will keep the Bengals secondary honest. There’s quite a few ways to do it, which plays to the Bills advantage. The receivers and Tyrod must find a way to beat this secondary who has shut down the passing of Joe Flacco, rookie standout Deshaun Watson, and even Aaron Rodgers. It’s not a ridiculous task, but one that may come to be important.
Thanks for reading, and as always, let’s go Buffalo!